Let Your Yes Be No

Oh, the Lisbon Treaty referendum is back. Let me record my thoughts for posterity. A few months go I suggested that everyone who planned on voting No should organise to vote yes, so as to produce a Yes in the proportions of a Saddam-era vote in Iraq. This was and is unlikely to happen. I still think that the result will be a Yes, though I am not as sure as before, and that the run-up to the vote will be used as an opportunity for the right wing media in this country, otherwise known as ‘the media’, to demonise and denigrate those left wing parties and individuals who will campaign for a No vote. It will be a marvellous opportunity, in the midst of a full-blown economic crisis, now that the far-right opportunists of Libertas have vanished, to place leftists in the same bracket as the aborted baby-fetish fascists in Coir, denounce them as unreasonable antediluvian freaks, and attempt to shore up the neo-liberal consensus that prevails in the country with a series of phantasmagoric predictions of fear and destruction should the people make the wrong decision. Bright young professionals, CEOs and celebrity chefs shall appear on the airwaves and online, railing against the shrivelled breast of hibernian isolationism and glorifying the bounteous breast of ‘Europe’, from which all good things do and shall flow.

For my own part I agree entirely with the observations coming from advocates of a No vote that the purpose of the Lisbon Treaty is a consolidation of neo-liberalism within the European Union, that it entails a greater militarisation of that entity, and that for the most part it is a bad thing. At the same time I fear we might see a tendency among No campaigners to gloss over the ugly reality of the consequences of a successful No vote second time round. I am not the best judge of what those consequences might be, but I do not believe that they would be good for the left wing in this country, nor do I believe from this vantage point that a No vote would serve as some sort of beacon for leftist struggle across Europe. That strikes me as wishful thinking. So I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with a No vote but seeing a Yes outcome as easier to deal with. Perhaps the best result would be for people to hear lots of convincing arguments against voting Yes, none of which would have anything to do with corporation tax, abortion, or the retention of commissioners, but to lose anyway. Coming from anyone else, I would probably read these remarks as abject cowardice, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt.

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August 2009
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